Where Boston to Debut Fresh New Look, Content
Gay or straight, the Boston Pride Parade is cause for celebration

Whether you are gay or straight, the Boston Pride Parade is cause for celebration. (©Marilyn Humphries)

Boston for the LGBTQ Crowd

By Leigh Harrington on 02/23/16, updated 11/23/16
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Boston's Puritanical roots still doggedly honor the practical, straightforward, no-nonsense approach. Glitter (usually) evades this city. 

We admit that Boston is not known for having a thriving LGBTQ community, at least not one as fabulously known as San Francisco or Chicago. That's not to say we don't have one; in fact, we do have a thriving LGBTQ community. To be sure, we might be one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Our state was America's first to legalize gay marriage. It's also the founding place of GLAD. Famous gay retreat Provincetown is just a hop, skip and jump across Massachusetts Bay, and many vacationers start the party here while waiting for their ferries to depart. 

Though this city tends to favor intellectual pursuits over social ones, which applies whether you identify as straight or LGBTQ, it doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun.

Read on for suggestions of things to do while you're Bay State-side. (This is not a list of gay bars and clubs; those can be found here.)

Travelers also can visit with The Welcoming Committee, a Boston-born social outreach organization for LGBTQs that holds pop-up "takeovers" at local museums, bars, sporting games, you name it. Among a full roster of events, TWC is famous for its longstanding Guerilla Queer Bar, an en masse, surprise invasion of a mainstream night spot on the first Friday night of each month. (Note: The org features branches in 10 cities across the U.S.—from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.—so you can participate during upcoming travels or even in your hometown.)

The Donkey Show

"The Donkey Show" takes over Oberon. (©Marcus Stern)

Entertainment

The Donkey Show

One disco-bred, divalicious take on Shakespeare. Get your groove on beneath spinning mirror balls and celebrate partial nudity, tight shorts and butterfly pasties in this musical-theatrical extravaganza from Tony Award winner Diane Paulus and American Repertory Theater.

SoWa Artists Guild

SoWa First Friday event (©Rosanna Cipriani/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Attractions, Shopping

SoWa Artists Guild

Mingle with members of the South End community at SoWa Artists Guild's First Friday evenings, where 50 to 60 local artists open their studios to the public, play music, pour a little wine and converse on the process of creativity.

Boston Gay Men's Chorus

Boston Gay Men's Chorus during the 2015 holiday show (©Gretjen Helene Photography)

Entertainment

Boston Gay Men's Chorus

Classy with just the right dose of camp, the repertoire of Boston Gay Men's Chorus—which runs the gamut from show tunes to new commissions—makes one's heart sing. It's also one of the best choral groups in town.

Jacque's Cabaret

Entertainment dazzles audiences at Jacque's (©Apium/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Nightlife

Jacque's Cabaret

Bring some singles—friends and cash for tips—to Boston's resident hangout for fans of female impersonation. Perfectly appliqued queens take the stage nightly and dazzle audiences with sassy, sensational stuff. Definitely reserve a table, and be warned: shy patrons should not sit close to the stage.

Boston Harbor Cruises' Provincetown Fast Ferry

Provincetown Wharf (©MOTT)

Activities

Boston Harbor Cruises' Provincetown Fast Ferry

This is your ticket to P-town, one hot three-season getaway for writers, artists and the gay community. Although Provincetown is located at the very tip of Cape Cod, a swift cruise across Massachusetts Bay cuts travel time drastically, getting you there in about 90 minutes.

Boston Pride Week

Celebrate at this event! (©Marilyn Humphries)

Entertainment, Events

Boston Pride Week

Groove like Mick Jagger and David Bowie did in their incredible 1985 "Dancin' In the Streets" music video, and you've got the idea for what revelers do at this grand yearly event. Parade day is the major attraction, so don some rainbows and get out there.

South End

Worcester Square in Boston's South End (©Henry Zbyszynski/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Areas to Explore

South End

Like The Castro in San Francisco and Oak Lawn in Dallas, the South End is Boston's official 'gayborhood.' Come here to meet up, and while you're at it, soak in the 'hood's Victorian era charms, browse through fabulous contemporary art galleries and have your pick of outstanding, upscale restaurants.

The pet-friendly Liberty Hotel hosts its signature Wednesday Yappier Hour social event (May through September, 5:30-8 pm) where canines mix and mingle over cocktails in the outdoor courtyard. Beacon Hill residents and hotel guests regularly attend with their dogs. Although the evening is open to anyone, it is popular among lesbians.

Club Cafe Bistro & Video Bar

(Courtesy Club Cafe)

Nightlife

Club Cafe Bistro & Video Bar

Enjoy a chill meal within the restaurant portion of this hangout frequented predominately by gay men. After 9 pm, the atmosphere amps up, and crowds stand in long lines to get into the thumping club and video lounge.

Paradise

(Courtesy of Paradise)

Nightlife

Paradise

Palm trees and crashing surf it's not, but for gay men who like to party, this club is a slice of heaven complete with muscular male dancers showing off a lot of skin.

Tremont 647

(Courtesy Tremont 647)

Restaurants

Tremont 647

Two decades is long enough to cement this place as one of the South End's go-to neighborhood hangouts. Expect a mixed crowd thanks to tasty food, a stellar bar program and a $5 kid's menu, but late-night tends to trend largely gay. On Mondays don't miss the Mac Daddy deal: $1 burgers, fries and apple pies, 5:30-7:30 pm.

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

(©Kan Wu/CC license Flickr)

Attractions

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

Rainy day date spot anyone? Plus, if you happen to be in town in March, check out the annual single-evening Boston LGBT Film Festival, featuring current queer cinema.

House of Blues

(Courtesy House of Blues)

Entertainment, Nightlife

House of Blues

Every Saturday night at 10:30 pm, the Boston edition of this national-brand music club has long been running host Chris Harrison's EPIC Saturday, billed as "New England's largest gay dance event."

Boston Center for the Arts

Boston Center for the Arts plaza in the South End (©Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism)

Entertainment

Boston Center for the Arts

Theater buffs can find something doing at this South End multi-stage venue nearly every night of the week. After the show, maybe head across the street to The Eagle, if you like gritty, divey gay bars.

Trophy Room

(©Where)

Nightlife

Trophy Room

Popular on weeknights, this classy restaurant and bar tends to attract gay men who keep in shape. Not a surprise, given its name.

Boston by Foot

(©MOTT)

Activities

Boston by Foot

This tour provider is a favorite of history purists because all information is based in fact, rather than tall tales. Among a variety of specialized themes, "Boston's LGBT Past" is a 90-minute journey through the city's gay and lesbian culture from the 1840s to the 1980s. Tours must be scheduled, ideally a week in advance.

Gallery 263

© Catherine Graffam

Attractions

Gallery 263

Fostering a community of creatives, this Cambridge artistic hub also features exhibits from such organizations as the Boston LGBTQIA Artists Alliance.

Map of Boston for the LGBTQ Crowd